Saturday, January 16, 2010

Breastfeeding and Cystic Fibrosis

I can't claim to have a lot of experience on the topic of breastfeeding in relation to Cystic Fibrosis, but recently, a super mom out there, Kacie, gave a great interview that at least partly spoke on the subject. The complete interview is certainly worth the read and I highly encourage you guys to check out the full transcript by clicking here.

Wendy: Since you were exclusively breastfeeding Lucy, did the diagnosis affect this? What did your doctors recommend and what did you do?

Kacie: I had always known that I was going to exclusively breastfeed my children so the decision was made before Lucy was even born. When Lucy arrived, and because she had the blockages, I was not able to nurse her for 2 whole weeks. Imagine my frustration and heart ache to not be able to nurse my child when she cried for me! She never ingested a single thing until 2 weeks old, waiting for her insides to heal up. She was given fluids and nutrients through an IV while I pumped, pumped and pumped, and saved every last drop of milk I could get. I made the NICU nurses write in huge, red lettering, "MOTHER'S BREAST MILK ONLY!" in her file so she would never be given formula. The very first thing that went into Lucy's repaired intestines was exactly 5ml of my milk. She was not to be given more than 5-10ml at a time to insure that the surgery went well. After 2 days of "testing" her new tummy out, we were finally, at last, able to nurse. I will never forget the first time either! She latched on like she had done it before. We were off and running. The doctors were very pleased that I was so adamant about breastfeeding. The recommendations about switching to formula came later. Lucy was not gaining as much as she should have been gaining according to the AAP weight charts. When she dipped below 50th percentile, it was mentioned that we may have to supplement with formula for added calories. I told them that giving her formula would never happen in a million years! I went home that day and started nursing her around the clock like normal, but I added in feedings as well, even when she really didn't even have hunger cues. I became a human pacifier because I refused to put her on formula. Extra nursing worked. She gained enough weight to get above the 50th percentile so Lucy's nutritionist never mentioned formula to me again.

Wendy: How has breastfeeding proved to be a great help in relation to Lucy's diagnosis and her illness in general?

Kacie: I make jokes that my boob has been my best friend and still is! Lucy has been in and out of doctors offices her whole life. Her life is very chaotic and stressful because of CF. More stress than a child should have to go through: blood tests, needles, throat cultures, wearing a vest that shakes her chest and taking up to 9 different medications a day. By nursing Lucy on demand for the last 2 years, we have created a safe place for her to go where she knows everything will be okay. Nursing is her neutral place, a safe place, the quiet place among the storm. I am more in tune with her and her physical and emotional needs because of our nursing relationship. Nursing her for this long has helped her immune system. She is sick less often and when she does get sick it is very short-lived. If I ever get a cold or illness, she has never gotten it from me. She is receiving the antibodies from me that are needed in fighting the infection. I really cannot think of one negative thing to say about breastfeeding Lucy.

Read the full interview at Aruban Breastfeeding Mamas

So what do you guys think? Does/did breastfeeding create a "safe place" for your CF child? Would you recommend breastfeeding to the mothers that are out there reading this?